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Pizer, B. (2003). When the Crunch Is a (K)not: A Crimp in Relational Dialogue. Psychoanal. Dial., 13(2):171-192.

(2003). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 13(2):171-192

When the Crunch Is a (K)not: A Crimp in Relational Dialogue Related Papers

Barbara Pizer, ED.D.

The title of this paper employs a pun (“not” and “knot”) to emphasize that a relational (k)not negates truly intersubjective dialogue by shutting down the spaces, between and within persons, for mentalization, reflective functioning, genuine affect, and negotiation.

In treatment, relational (k)nots appear as repetitions that—unlike Russell's “crunch,” with its intensities of crisis—coerce states of noninvolvement between patient and analyst. Persistent relational notting produces a crisis of mutual detachment. After offering in this paper a developmental perspective on the etiology of relational (k)nots based on parental failure to mentalize the child's separate subjectivity, I offer an extended clinical vignette to illustrate notting and subsequent disengagement between patient and analyst, and I suggest potential analytic approaches to untying the (k)not.

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